Pursuing Excellence


My wife and I recently had the privilege of attending WorshipGod11, a praise & worship conference hosted by Sovereign Grace. It was a great time of worshiping God among 2000 or so other people who were all (mostly) involved in music. So as you can image the praise & worship music was excellent! There were also many practical application sessions that taught various topics like vocal technique, team organization, song selection and even some techie topics like sound equipment and stage volume. The amount of good, solid teaching was overwhelming and Bob Kauflin said during the last session of the conference to NOT take everything home and try to implement it all at once. We are however going to begin trying some of the things we learned. Not just because they are cool or neat, but because we are called in scripture to excellence.

Called to Excellence

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Colossians 3:15-17

So in whatever we do, including leading music on Sunday morning, we should do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Does that really call us to excellence though? For me it does. If you understand who Jesus is, who God is, the one who created everything by His very word [Genesis 1:1], the one by whom all things are held together [Colossians 1:17] then it should change your perspective about just who you are worshiping. This isn’t the president of the United States we are singing to, this is the God of the universe! We should present the very best that we can possibly muster to honor this awesome being.

In addition to the magnitude of who we are worshiping, we should also remember what He has done. The NIV translation of the bible has headings over certain sections. Above the Colossians section quoted above is the label, “Living as Those Made Alive in Christ.” We have been made alive! We were dead in our sins and Christ died [John 3:16] and was raised from the dead [Romans 8:11] so that we could live, all because He loves us. This awesome, magnificent, holy God is also a personal God who loves you. We should offer our very best to Him because of His great love for us and the gratitude that should generate in our hearts.

So What Is Excellence?

“Excellence is the process of becoming better than I once was. I’m not to become better than someone else or even like someone else. Excelling is simply, and radically, the process of improving over yesterday…”
Harold Best
Dean – Wheaton College Conservatory of Music

I like Harold Best’s description here because it boils excellence down to a journey, not a finish line. Excellence is not being the best guitarist in your church. It is not that you can sing for the opera or a pop album or play the piano like Vladimir Horowitz. It may include all or some of those things, but probably not. When we start comparing our skills and talents to those of other people we begin to judge. It may be ourselves that we are judging or the other people, but in either case it can lead to non-edifying thoughts and behaviors. If we are going to compare ourselves to anyone it should be to Christ. In that scenario the only outcome is to realize how vast the difference is, how great is the grace extended to us and to start moving down the road to being more Christ-like.

Wait a minute, Christ played the guitar!? I don’t have an actual scriptural reference to confirm or deny that, but I’m sure if the devil did go down to Georgia and challenge Jesus to a music duel there would be no contest. I think the point I’m trying to make is that whether it is in playing or singing skillfully, knowing the word of God, loving others as ourselves, being generous or being thankful – whatever the case – we should always be moving towards becoming better than we once were.

Hall and Oates Coming to Pensacola

21428aDaryl Hall and John Oates, two of the most well-known stars in the music industry, are making a stop at the Pensacola Civic Center for an intimate theatre performance on Sunday, April 5th. Hall and Oates started working together in the early 1970’s and went on to become the most successful duo in rock history.  With over 60 million albums sold, Daryl Hall & John Oates’ rich repertoire has garnered a total of 8 #1 hit singles along with dozens of hits throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, including 2002’s Do it for Love. Other top singles include: Rich Girl, Kiss On My List, Maneater, Private Eyes, I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do), Sara Smile, She’s Gone, and One On One.

Tickets go on sale Friday, February 20th @ 10:00 AM and start at $29.50. You can search Ticketmaster for more details.

Casting Crowns – Peace On Earth

Casting Crowns has just released a new Christmas album titled Peace On Earth (as of October 7, 2008). You can buy the CD on Amazon right now for $13.49 and it is eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping (if bundled with enough other merchandise to total $25 or more). You can also purchase the MP3 Album for $9.90 from the Amazon MP3 Downloads Store and have it right away. So what’s on the CD? The tracks are as follows:

  1. I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day
  2. O Come All Ye Faithful
  3. Joy To The World
  4. While You Were Sleeping
  5. Silent Night
  6. God Is With Us
  7. Away In A Manger
  8. Christmas Offering
  9. Sweet Little Jesus Boy
  10. O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Get your CD ordered today so you can start the celebration of Christ early!

Michael Bublé In Concert

Ladies (and gentlemen possibly), Michael Bubl̩ is coming to concert at the Pensacola Civic Center Friday, October 17, 2008! Presale tickets are starting today (September 11, 2008) and cost in the range of $49.50 Р$79.50. Onsale to the general public begins tomorrow (September 12, 2008).

Who is Michael Bublé, you ask? He is a Canadian big bad singer born September 9, 1975 (he’s the same age as I am!) who has won several awards including a Grammy and multiple Juno Awards. His success in the United States came about with his 2005 album, It’s Time.